The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

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Notes on The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter. This set of Tower Notes is 75 pages long and is sold as a fully illustrated PDF file.

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A free sample, text only, is provided below. There is no introduction to this set of notes; instead an afterword is provided, dealing with 'Wolf-Alice' and the collection as a whole.

T H E B L O O D Y C H A M B E R

Magic Realism and the Perilous Realm.

One of the first things that becomes clear from a study of ‘The Bloody Chamber’ alongside its original, Charles Perrault’s ‘Bluebeard’ (‘La Barbe bleu’), is the nature of ‘magic realism’ – a writing technique with which Angela Carter is frequently identified. ‘Bluebeard’ has two unquestionably magical elements within it – the antagonist’s blue beard and the ‘Fée’ (‘Fairy’) key that becomes permanently stained with blood. Only the latter is preserved in ‘The Bloody Chamber’, although Carter’s story introduces two other new, but related, supernatural elements. Otherwise, every attempt is made to achieve a convincing level of realism in the re-telling of the story, from the detailed and convincing courtship of the Marquis to the suggestion that his re-enactment of the story of Bluebeard is itself a fetishized sexual fantasy.

The first apparently magical element in ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is not found in the original: it is the presence of liquid (rather than dried) blood in the Marquis’s enfer. Whereas in ‘Bluebeard’ the blood of the murdered wives is realistically ‘caillé’ or ‘clotted’, Carter describes a ‘forming pool’ of the Romanian countess’s blood. However recently the Marquis’s previous bride was murdered, it is unlikely her blood would not have congealed and hardened in what must have been several weeks at the very least. As in ‘Bluebeard’, the blood permanently (and therefore magically) stains the key to the chamber (a sexual trope) and the key, in turn, stains the protagonist’s forehead with a mark that can never be removed (a further magical addition to the source material).

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